Five – Minute punctuation boost: commas.
Punctuation works in almost the same way between English and other European languages. In both Spanish and English you can easily insert one comma into this sentence, to invite Maria to eat, instead of suggesting eating her:
“Vamos a comer María!”
“Let’s eat Maria!”
(The comma should be before the name María)
As the world uses more and more technology and writing “want 2 go 2 C a film l8er?” becomes a reasonable sentence for people to send to each other through instant messaging, people can forget how to correctly use punctuation. However, I believe that incorrect use of punctuation may mean the difference between receiving a job interview, and not.
Here’s a quick comma boost for you.
The comma is the most common and yet most misunderstood of all punctuation marks. Commas break up a sentence or join together more than one idea. Here are the main uses of the comma:
- Joining two independent clauses (ideas) that could exist on their own:
Graham was hungry, so he opened the fridge.
Bolivia doesn’t have a coast, but it does have a massive lake.
- After an introductory clause (idea) that couldn’t exist on its own:
When he opened the fridge, Graham realised that he had no food.
NOTE: Reversed, this sentence does not need a comma: (although sometimes it may be put for clarity)
Graham realised that he had no food when he opened the fridge.
- To make lists of three or more things: (with ‘and’ separating the final two)
The ingredients of a standard cake are eggs, flour, sugar and butter.
The event includes speeches by famous scientists, a display of recent inventions, and a buffet lunch.
- To begin and end a separate idea, within a sentence. These commas function similarly to brackets, and the sentence must make sense without what is written between them. This is what is called Non-Defining Relative Clauses:
Graham ran to the supermarket, which was four kilometres away, as fast as he could.
Olives, one of my favourite types of food, are native to the Mediterranean.
My sister, Sue, is a great pianist.
5. After contradicting or intensifying words or phrases. Or surrounding these linking words within a sentence:
However, nearly half of all apples are grown in China.
There are many countries around the world that grow apples, however, nearly half of all apples are grown in China.
On the other hand, during the summer Iceland experiences a period of 24-hour sunlight.
During winter Iceland has a period of 24-hour darkness, on the other hand, during Summer the reverse occurs.
6. Lastly, a comma may be inserted to clarify a potentially confusing sentence.
The table was full of sweet cakes and drinks. – This suggests that the drinks are also sweet.
The table was full of sweet cakes, and drinks. – This suggests that only the cakes are sweet.
Place commas in these sentence where you think are necessary. Answers can be found underneath:
1. The main advantages of taking the train are speed comfort and price.
2. The Pope who is Argentinian visited Chile in January.
3. Unlike before the map now shows Kosovo as an independent nation.
4. John went to the supermarket and bought ingredients for a pie.
5. Upon arriving a the cashier Eve realised she had forgotten her purse.
6. He always writes using a red pen and paper.
7. The largest city in Ecuador Guayaquil has three million people however it isn’t the capital city.
1. The main advantages of taking the train are speed, comfort and price.
2. The Pope, who is Argentinian, visited Chile in January.
3. Unlike before, the map now shows Kosovo as an independent nation.
4. John went to the supermarket, and bought ingredients for a pie.
5. Upon arriving a the cashier, Eve realised she had forgotten her purse.
6. He always writes using a red pen, and paper.
7. The largest city in Ecuador, Guayaquil, has three million people, however, it isn’t the capital city.
If you have any questions about commas or other punctuation marks, ask us in the comments section below!